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Cabinet Fails to Heal Split over Policy on United Nations Resolution

May 21, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The coalition Cabinet met this morning but failed to heal a split that developed over the Government’s policy on the Nov. 22, 1967 Security Council resolution on the Middle East. The Gahal (Herut-Liberal) Party refused to go along with other members in an endorsement of the Government’s acceptance of the resolution as the basis for a “just and lasting peace.” But while the Gahal dissociated itself from the statements on the subject made by Foreign Minister Abba Eban and by Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, chief of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, observers believed that it would not leave the Government, thereby precipitating a crisis at this time. After its morning meeting devoted to foreign policy, the Cabinet adjourned until nine o’clock tonight.

Israel’s acceptance of the Nov. 22 resolution was stated at the UN earlier this month by Tekoah. Several ministers complained, not of the statement’s substance but of the fact that Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Eban had authorized Mr. Tekoah to enunciate it without prior consultation with the Cabinet. Mr. Eshkol and Mr. Eban apparently succeeded in convincing most of them, in private consultations yesterday, that the Tekoah statement represented no deviation from previous policy decisions and, as a tactical move, did not require Cabinet approval. Israel’s basic position, which the Cabinet is expected to reiterate, is that the cease-fire situation can be changed only by a formal peace settlement. The Cabinet is also expected to formally approve the policy and tactics employed by Eban and Tekoah in upholding that position at the UN and in the continuing talks with UN peace envoy. Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring.

Some high officials of Eshkol’s office believe that the transfer of the scene of those talks from the Middle East to UN headquarters in New York may lead to an actual meeting with Jordanian delegates. Should such a meeting materialize, the Cabinet will have to decide on the substance of the peace proposals that Israel will make to Jordan. The situation then would be a delicate one with the possibility arising of a Cabinet crisis, observers said. Gahal has demanded that the present cease-fire lines become the permanent boundaries of Israel. The official Government position, so far, is that there will be no return to the armistice lines that existed prior to last June’s war but that everything else is “negotiable,” However, should Jarring continue to meet with both sides separately in New York, as he has done these past months in the Middle East, nothing will have changed. As one official put it, there will be “talks about talks.”

(Israel Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin left Washington today for consultations in Israel. He will remain in Israel for about ten days, an Embassy spokesman said.)

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